HAND-COLOURED ENGRAVING FOR A BRIDGE IN MONTPELLIER by [BRIDGE BUILDING].

HAND-COLOURED ENGRAVING FOR A BRIDGE IN MONTPELLIER by [BRIDGE BUILDING]. < >
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HAND-COLOURED ENGRAVING FOR A BRIDGE IN MONTPELLIER ‘L'élévation d'un projet de pont composé de six arches de neuf toises d'ouverture chacune, sans qu'il soit nécessaire d’u secours d'aucune pille pour les soutenir. Ce pont a été exécuté à Montpellier, en pierre de taille sur l’Echelle d’un pied par toise ... sur lequel pont on roule des brouettes remplies de boulets de canon pesant douze à quinze quintaux sans que les arches reçoivent le plus petit mouvement, présentant au contraire, la plus grand solidité, depuis environ une année, que ce pont est construit. À Montpellier le 24o Aout 1779. J. Giral, architect et pensionnaire des Etats Généreaux de la Province de Languedoc.

1779. Single engraved sheet, sheet size 300 x 640mm, image size 285 x 625mm; hand-coloured; evidence of three previous vertical folds, with small hole in centre of left fold with minor loss, some light surface wear, paper a little browned and foxed, with neat repair along lower margin; very good. A rare hand-coloured engraving showing the side elevation and top view plan of an attractive six arch self-supporting stone bridge, and the design of the noted Montpellier architect Jean-Antoine Giral (1713-1787). According to the running headline the bridge ‘a été exécuté à Montpellier, en pierre de taille sur l’Echelle d’un pied par toise; c’est a dire, le sixieme du Grand, au quel on a done trente pouces de largeur. Representant quinze pieds en grand pour la moité de trente pieds de largeur d’une cette a l’autre il est entre pour les six arches sans les culées, 1000 pieds cubes de pierre de taille, pezant 2000 quintaux, qui sont soutenus sans aucune pille ni pillier sur lequel pont on roule des brouettes remplies de boulets de canon pesant douze à quinze quintaux sans que les arches reçoivent le plus petit mouvement, présentant au contraire, la plus grand solidité, depuis environ une année, que ce pont est construit’. The attractive engraving is signed by Giral and dated August 24th 1779.
Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to identify the bridge, or to ascertain for certain whether it was ever constructed, or whether this is merely a proposal for future discussion - which seems more likely.
We have found no other mention of this engraving. Giral, from a distinguished family of architects, was named state architect for Languedoc and he was entrusted with the design of a number of municipal and public edifices, most notably the water fountain at Peyrou, and the Royal Promenade which linked the water tower to the Montpellier Aquaduct. He was also responsible for the design of the new Pont sur la Mosson at Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone, built to replace one destroyed by a severe flood, and completed in 1766. The present engraving certainly bears some resemblance to that bridge, and as a number of other bridges in the area had been damaged during flooding, it seems likely that he had been called upon for new proposals.

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